China-Ghana-UNDP Trilateral Cooperation on Renewable Energy

The Challenge

In recent years, Ghana has performed well in terms of increasing the share of electricity generation going to households from less than 40% in 2000 to 60% in 2010, and currently more than 70% of households nationwide have access to electricity. However, this national average masks a striking urban-rural disparity with only 40% of rural households having access to electricity, with significant impact on productive activities and local economic development. Extension of the grid to some of the remaining remote unelectrified (such as islands and isolated) communities is difficult due to geographical and financing constraints.

Ghana has an installed capacity of 2,578MW (as of 15 May 2013) mostly made up of hydro and thermal facilities. Electricity peak demand in 2013 is 2,016MW and is growing at 8% per annum. The existing power plants are unable to attain full generation capacity as a result of limitations of fuel supply, limitation of water inflows into the hydroelectric power facilities and challenges with maintenance of generation facilities.

In addition, 70% of the population in urban areas and 90% in rural areas depend on wood fuel for meeting their domestic energy requirements which has adverse impacts on health, particularly for women and children, and the environment.

The Response

Through the pilot project, UNDP together with the national counterparts aim at showing concrete solutions for providing access to renewable energy solutions through enhanced investment and production of Renewable Energy Technologies. The project will operate both at the upstream level (supporting the creation of an enabling environment for technology transfer) and downstream level (actual transfer and demonstration of technologies with potential up scaling by the private sector).

The response builds firmly on a trilateral setup where all parties play an active role and draw learning from the cooperation. China has concrete experience and technical knowledge in the renewable energy sector, whilst they need to build project management capabilities and approach to south-south cooperation. Ghana and Zambia both have a gap in electrification of especially rural areas, whilst these countries have unique insight into local context, including productive uses of energy and experience with past electrification projects that can be shared between the two countries. UNDP plays a facilitating, coordinating and oversight role between and for the implementing agencies and contributes with its project management and learning process tools. 

Expected Achievements and Outcome

  • The project aims to effect off-grid community-based electrification, increase the share of renewable energy and promote the productive uses of energy.
  • Support broader socio-economic and environmental objectives, most notably poverty reduction through employment generation as well as action on climate change mitigation.
  • Create an enabling environment in Ghana for absorbing new technology, and in China for providing it appropriately.
  • Promotion of the production of renewable energy technologies in Ghana with a strong focus on private sector development and inclusion.
  • In China, the project will support the review and updating of South-South Cooperation policies and guidelines. Moreover, the project contributes to solid capacity building, enabling China to engage more systematically in South-South Cooperation


Denmark provides financing to the programme. Denmark is increasingly focused on South-South Cooperation, to enable better and more coherent cooperation between China and countries in Africa, in particular around the promotion of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL).

The trilateral cooperation programme has been developed alongside a similar programme between China-UNDP-Ghana, which is also funded by Denmark.

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